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Where are they now? P John Teltschik

John Teltschik
Where Are They Now? P John Teltschik

Just days after their Super Bowl XX victory, Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan left Chicago by choice. Toward the end of Training Camp seven months later, John Teltschik, a rookie punter drafted by the Bears in the ninth round of the 1986 NFL Draft out of Texas, left Chicago after being released.

Both ended up in Philadelphia.

Ryan, as the Eagles' new head coach. And Teltschik, hopeful of becoming the Eagles' new punter after being claimed by them off waivers.

"I just wanted to try to keep playing," Teltschik says. "I felt like I could play, but Chicago stuck with the guy that they had and left me kind of holding the bag. And luckily, I was pretty excited when the phone rang."

Having a conversation over the phone was one thing, but talking face-to-face with Ryan was a little different. And it proved to come with some pressure.

"The first meeting was pretty interesting. I traveled on that Wednesday, and by the time I got to Philadelphia, it was after midnight Thursday. Which was actually our (last preseason) gameday," Teltschik says. "And so when I met with him, he basically said, 'Glad to have somebody from Texas here. Kick good tonight and you've got a job. If not, you'll be on the next bus out of here.'"

Teltschik kicked well enough in the preseason finale against the New York Jets to make the team. And he'd be busy.

He punted a league-leading and team-record 108 times during the season, the most ever by an NFL rookie and the third most in league history. Teltschik's teammates voted him as the Eagles' special teams MVP.

"I was surprised for one. But I don't know, we weren't very good on special teams, that's for sure," says Teltschik, who was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team. "But that meant a lot. Anytime your teammates vote you in on something, that's a good honor. They see what's going on. They're there at all the meetings. Yeah, that was a big honor."

Leading the NFL again the following year with 82 punts – including a league-record 15, including four in OT, during a December 6 loss at the New York Giants. He was named the Eagles' special teams MVP for a second consecutive season.

Teltschik co-led the league with 98 punts in 1988. A workhorse during his first three seasons, he had 288 punts, handled some kickoffs, held for some placekicks, and was in on tackles every now and then.

That's actually how he was injured during a 1989 Week 3 game against San Francisco at the Vet. It ultimately ended his career.

"We ran a bunch of fakes and that's how I got hurt," Teltschik says. "I got hit out of bounds and knew something was off. But the adrenaline had taken over and it seemed like the next few days, it just kept getting worse and worse to the point where … I played seven more weeks on it.

"And then when (the surgeons) finally looked at it, they told me that I had a torn meniscus cartilage and a partially torn ACL. They were like, 'Yeah, you messed some stuff up in here.' I ended up having six knee operations, and I probably need to have it replaced. I only want to do it once, so I'm kind of not doing anything that I have to go right and left. I just go straight. To this day, it lets me know who the boss is."

Recognized by his teammates with the two special teams MVP awards, Teltschik was also named to the All-Madden Team in 1987.

"John Madden did our game (against the New York Jets), and I think I had four tackles. He liked just the fact that I'd go down there and try to get in on it," Teltschik says. "I learned at an early age, don't stay back and run to the sidelines.

"If you're going to help, get down there and don't give their fastest guy 20 yards in between you and him. Hopefully, you can hit him when he's bouncing off of somebody else. But don't let him go wide open because they can juke you so fast."

With Philadelphia for four seasons, 1986-89, what are among Teltschik's fondest memories as an Eagle?

"I think one of the craziest memories was during the strike (in 1987)," Teltschik says. "That was an eye-opening experience. It's not really football, but it's kind of real-world experience, seeing how all that stuff went down. The union versus the non-union and spending the night at the stadium and seeing all that stuff happen.

"And some of the things that Buddy did was kind of cool. You almost had to have a Buddy Ryan information book to understand him, but he was very loyal. Almost to a fault. He had certain guys he liked and you had to prove it. Hell, he called me kicker for the first two years I was there, and I was a punter. But that was pretty fun for me."

Following football, Teltschik got into the home construction business in the Dallas area. And in 1999, he went from working with wood to growing it and founded the Tioga Tree Farm, an hour's drive north of Dallas in Tioga, Texas.

"I kind of had the sense that things are going to keep growing north. They were building the tollway, and its wide-open farmland up here," Teltschik says. "I was on the wrong end of the tree business for several years and was like, 'You know what? I'm going to look at doing this and kind of double it. Buy the property and grow the trees, as well. And maybe one of the two will work.' So I've got like 145 acres that I'm growing trees on, and slowly but surely over time, everything's kind of come to us.

"The biggest problem was the first four or five years. There's not much coming in. You sit there and watch them grow a little bit, especially when you have a dry year. They don't grow hardly at all. So it's wait, wait, wait. But if you're persistent and get them to where they start growing and start selling, it's a pretty good little business."

"At one time, there were probably over 20,000 trees out here. But I cut that back over time and there's probably 7,000 now. I don't necessarily want to do this forever, but at the same time, I enjoy it. And I'm in a good spot where things are still growing towards me. It's not like I have to go to an office every day. My property's an office and there's never a dull moment."

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